Help me compare Dallas & Houston.
June 13, 2007 12:29 PM   Subscribe

I'm thinking about adding either Dallas, TX or Houston, TX to my list of potential areas to relocate to. I'm getting pretty sick of California (the SF Bay Area) and have always liked the midwest. Help me learn more about the two places.

I have already read the Wikipedia page for each metro area and dug around on, but I'd really like to hear from folks that live there now.

I'm mainly getting sick of the ridiculous cost of living in the Silicon Valley, the traffic, and the way-far left politics area. I'm more of a centrist than anything. I don't really care too much about museums and "high culture," but I do like a lot of "American" foods. Like barbeque and steaks. I work as a unix sysadmin during the day and an EMT by night/weekend. It seems to me that the Dallas area has a lot more high tech, but Houston has a larger healthcare sector. (That's why I'm asking you guys!)

I visited Austin and liked it a lot. I enjoyed the weather. I like summer rains. I don't ski or wakeboard or any of that, but I do like to shoot stuff.

so, lazyweb, tell me the tale of two cities!
posted by drstein to Society & Culture (57 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Just a note, I don't think I'd consider Texas the midwest. I'm an Ohio girl and I lived with a Texan for a few years. We grew up very differently. (She was from DFW area, and despite being a good vegetarian liberal, enjoyed growing up there).
posted by olinerd at 12:32 PM on June 13, 2007

FYI: Texas is not the "midwest". Texas is Texas... sort of its own region.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 12:32 PM on June 13, 2007

I found these forums incredibly helpful when I was deciding on a state to relocate to.
posted by Sufi at 12:36 PM on June 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

Houston is incredibly humid compared to Dallas, and some people can't handle that kind of heat.
posted by ktrey at 12:54 PM on June 13, 2007

Austin: great but getting more and more expensive, still cheaper than SF

Houston: soulless, concrete, sprawling, hellhole (hey, I grew up here and I still think so)

Dallas: see Houston

San Antonio: not much to do but low cost of living and 1-1.5 hours from Austin
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:56 PM on June 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Nthing the fact that Texas (where I lived for 11 years) is nothing like the midwest (where I have lived for 10 years). Traffic is no better in Houston or Dallas than the Bay Area and the drivers behave significantly different (note: I haven't lived in the Bay Area, just visited SF & Mtn View & environs). Austin (where I spent much of my 11 years) is NOTHING like Houston or Dallas and has just as much of the left-of-sensible politics (as well as more moderate lefties). When I last visited Austin (two years ago), I was deadshocked by how out of control the traffic was.

The weather in Texas is hot, hot and damned hot (reason #2 that I left, reason #1 being the traffic). But the thunderstorms are amazing.

I found most people to be friendly, polite, quiet about their politics and quiet about their beliefs. Houston has one of the best ballets in the country; Dallas (last time I was there) didn't have much culture. I had no problem living in Texas without an interest in sports, but it gets me lots of blank looks up here in Chicago.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:56 PM on June 13, 2007

Texas ain't the Midwest. Houston ain't even really Texas - even my money-grubbing can't-fly-on-coach-with-the-rabble cousin found it too Republican. Come to St. Louis.
posted by notsnot at 12:56 PM on June 13, 2007

I grew up in Dallas and went to college in Houston. It's been a decade since I lived in either, but my family is still there. You won't get away from traffic in either city. Both are sprawling and immense. Both have good neighborhoods that are nice to live in, so to some extent you can minimize your contact with the sprawl by choosing to live near whatever area you work in or want to hang out in. Dallas is probably a little less "Texas-y", in that I was able to grow up there without ever listening to country music, but really you'll find a pretty good mix of urban yuppies and good ol' boys in both locations. Houston, in my opinion, has better food, and certainly has a culture that's more focused around food. Houston also has more of an international flavor than Dallas does. Partly because it's closer to the border, but also because it has larger groups of other immigrants, including Chinese and Vietnamese. This is a big part of why the food in Houston is better!

Dallas has zoning while Houston doesn't, so you get a lot more commercial buildings mixed in your residential neighborhoods in the latter, which makes it an uglier city. Of course, if you like beaches or any water sports Houston is much closer to the coast. (That said, Texas beaches suck hard.) And while summer in Texas is summer in Texas, summer in Houston is even more painful than summer in Dallas, so I'd be sure to visit first and make sure you can take the combo of 110 outside and super-airconditioned inside.

Neither place is anything like Austin, so don't base your decision on a visit there.
posted by MsMolly at 1:00 PM on June 13, 2007

I live in Denton at the northern edge of the D/FW metro area. Warning: this will be colored by the fact that I loathe this area and will be delighted to knock its dust from my feet in a couple weeks.

North Texas is nice, but bland, in winter, late fall, and early spring. From about late April to late October it is like living in an oven. And, no, it is not a dry heat. It's not normally downright humid, but it is very fucking far from a dry heat. And it goes on and on and on, sometimes a couple-few weeks where nearly every day has a high over 105 and the lows are in the 80s. It's funny or even a nice change if you're visiting or in your first summer, and from then on it's an ongoing horror. If you have not spent a couple of weeks living in the summer heat here, you have no idea what you're getting yourself in for.

Unlike Austin or Houston, you can expect to get a dusting of snow every couple years in D/FW.

The storms are spectacular, if occasionally dangerous.

In D/FW at least, if you have kids (or might want to sell your house to families with kids) you'll want to be careful about what school districts and even individual school attendance area you live in.

There are lots of areas where you can get into reasonably nice but extremely OH MY GOD KILL YOURSELF NOW suburban houses for $150--200K. Home price and commuting distance are strongly negatively correlated.

Property taxes around here tend to be high -- some friends pay something like $3500 on a $130K-ish house. Which wouldn't be so bad if Texas schools didn't run the gamut from "shitty" to "almost but not quite average."

The area is exceedingly bland and corporate. There are good independent (or local chain) steak places and Mexican. Apart from that, and the expensive areas of Dallas, it's an endless sea of Olive Gardens and Applebeeses and Best Buys and such.

Born Texans can be very nice, but if you say anything they perceive as remotely critical of Texas they can turn into raging shitcock-spouting assholes very quickly.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:05 PM on June 13, 2007

screw you guys.

Dallas is the shit. That being said, I sometimes yearn to move to San Francisco!

Texas is Texas. Its own region and unique flavor.

I wouldn't consider Houston and Dallas typical Texas. They're a bit more cosmopolitan. As far as politics go, most everyone here is republican, but they're not the overt republican that the typical image of a Texan conjures. I'm a slightly left centrist, and I find the attitudes of people just fine.

The structure of both is very similiar. They're both conglomerates of suburbs, kind of like outer SF.

Houston is far bigger, and it's not uncommon to drive an hour and half at a time to get around (there's a reason why Houston was the fattest city in the nation).

Houston has major humidity problems and is a hurricane risk. Dallas may get the occasional tornado. The thunderstorms are amazing. So pretty (we just had a good one about an hour ago).

I still think there's no greater place for food than Dallas. We have steaks galore, and we love bbq.

You don't say how old are you. Are you married? Single? Both places are great places to settle down and start a family, but the dating life can be

Anyways, that's my perspective, and I'll readily admit I'm biased as hell. Houston sucks.
posted by unexpected at 1:08 PM on June 13, 2007

It seems to me that the Dallas area has a lot more high tech, but Houston has a larger healthcare sector. (That's why I'm asking you guys!)

I grew up outside Dallas, live in Austin now, and I'd say that both Houston and Dallas have huge healthcare and tech sectors. I couldn't live in Houston, but there are some good areas in Dallas. I think the split is not so much Texas/Midwest but Urban/Suburban. Both Dallas and Houston provide an urban experience, but most choose to live in the suburbs, which are huge, sprawling, safe.
posted by mattbucher at 1:10 PM on June 13, 2007

Dallas people hate Houston. Houston people hate Dallas.

Personally, I'd take Austin over either ANY day of the year.

But it's growing very quickly, as everyone is figuring this out.
posted by Espoo2 at 1:22 PM on June 13, 2007

I was born and raised in Dallas, lived in Austin the past 10 years, and have visited Houston a large number of times. The only way I'd ever move to Houston is if I was given ownership of the Astros, or one of the giant oil companies. I probably wouldn't move back to Dallas, but I find it a little more tolerable than Houston.

Dallas is a lot more yuppie (uppity) than Houston. People are way more concerned about what you wear, what kind of car you drive, how much money you make, and that kind of thing. Both cities are giant sprawling concrete messes, with traffic like that you see in Los Angeles or San Francisco. You can mitigate this by working close to where you live, but it can still be cumbersome.

Houston is more conservative than Dallas, way more miserable weather-wise, and more country/cowboy/redneck/hickish (depending on your outsider point of view). The city is larger, with a lot more diversity in terms of ethnic groups than Dallas is. The smog is bad in Houston. It was listed as the fattest city in America a number of times.

The tech sector is strong in Dallas and Houston, although I would think there are more high tech opportunities in Dallas. I'm not an expert on the health care sector, but EMTs are probably needed everywhere.

Austin is nothing like either of the other two cities. Austin is an oasis in the state of Texas, that is struggling with it's growth, and trying to stay different from Dallas and Houston. It is way more liberal than D & H, but it's not the same overt liberalness as found in San Fran. If you are conservative, it might get to you a little bit, but I'm a moderate liberal that finds it just fine.

The TexMex food in all three places is awesome, as is the barbecue (as long as you go to the right places), steaks, and any other beef product. Good Italian food is hard to find, so if you find a place you like you'll be lucky.

There's more, but it's hard to describe all that is different about the two places in this post.
posted by stovenator at 1:32 PM on June 13, 2007

I wouldn't consider Texas the midwest, but for someone from one of the coasts, I think it has some similarities -- the stereotypes about people being friendlier, etc., have some truth to them.
Houston's got good high tech -- Compaq/HP is based there, among others, and there's lots of high tech involved in the petroleum industry. It's also got afternoon thundershowers in the summer, which Austin is sadly lacking. Don't be put off by stories of 110 degrees -- that's rare. It does happen, don't get me wrong, but it's major news when it does. And we do have excellent air conditioning everywhere.
I'm quite fond of Houston, and although I live in Austin now and don't plan to move back, I grew up there and my sister lives there now. The city's very green, especially in the older neighborhoods. Memorial Park and Bayou Bend are gorgeous. Out in the suburbs, you'll get more consistently right-wing politics, and in certain neighborhoods of the city you'll get more Austin-y leftists -- but there are always more than enough Republicans around to take the edge off that. If you live in the city (inside Loop 610) the politics are more mixed. You also don't have to drive very far to get most of your daily needs. From my sister's place it's a five minute drive to any of three different grocery stores, about 10 minutes to Target, and about 15 to the Galleria, where any consumer good on earth can be purchased.
I've driven in SF and learned to drive in Houston. Houston freeway driving is a challenge, but not nearly as bad as SF -- wider lanes, not as many people crammed into too small a space, better engineering.
I will refrain from commentary on Dallas, but it may meet many of your criteria. Good medical, although not the world-class facilities like Houston (MD Anderson and Texas Children's trump anything else in the state). There will always be good steak and burgers available to you in either city (and you can learn to love the wonder that is chicken fried steak!)
Oh, and there will always be places to shoot things, and people in general won't look at you funny for having a gun here.
posted by katemonster at 1:35 PM on June 13, 2007

Fort Worth is damned close to Dallas (as in, we in Fort Worth feel damned to be that close) which is actually a good thing. Fort Worth is still a major city in its own right (in the top 20 in population nationally ahead of Washington and Boston), but still retains a bit more of a medium-city flavor. Traffic is getting worse but still not near as bad as Dallas (15-20 mile commute = 1/2 hour drive in Ft. Worth).

Fort Worth has several "city centers"- downtown (aka Sundance Square) with a lot of early 20th-Century art deco stuff; the Stockyards for your cowboy fix; the Cultural District with more museums than you can shake a stick at; and... oh, I guess maybe throw in the West Side which runs along a red brick main drag and the "college town" atmosphere around TCU.

New home prices start in the low 100s; you can get a damn nice spread for a quarter mill.

Fort Worth has most of your big-city conveniences, and the few it is missing (major sports teams) are a short drive away (and getting closer with the Cowboys moving to Arlington).

The Fort Worth attitude is best described by the T-shirst worn at a local BBQ place: "Life's too short to live in Dallas."

The downside of Fort Worth is the strong conservative bent of many of the locals, in part because of a major Baptist seminary in town. I'm pretty liberal though and the conservative Christian attitude is generally balanced out by the Texan self-sufficient "you stay out of my business and I'll stay out of yours" ethic.
posted by Doohickie at 1:44 PM on June 13, 2007

Dallas. I was about to recommend Houston because of its museums & outsider-art culture, but if you don't care about that, go where the weather is more bearable, downtown won't flood, and you won't have to evacuate during hurricane season.
posted by treepour at 1:47 PM on June 13, 2007

i thought texas was considered the southwest?
posted by violetk at 1:56 PM on June 13, 2007

I am from Dallas and I live there now. I know Houston pretty well, but I don't have anything nice to say about it. Here are my thoughts on Dallas:

Dallas is very diverse. Dallas county is about 20% black, 35% Hispanic and 35% white. Many elected officials (county judge, sheriff, district clerk, and a leading mayoral candidate) are openly gay. Racial issues exist, but Dallas is far from a haven for racist rednecks.

In 2004, Dallas county voted 50% Bush and 49% Kerry. City politics includes people from all across the spectrum (although I don't think there is anyone as far left as SF politicians).

Crime is high, but violent crime seems to be confined to specific areas of the city. Property crime is everywhere, but it is getting better with our new police chief.

Traffic is as bad as any other major city. The light rail network is big and expanding every year. It would be very hard to live without a car, though.

You can live like a king in Dallas on a wage that would make you a pauper in California. I can't speak for market conditions in your exact industry, but none of my friends have had any trouble finding jobs in the area.
posted by Uncle Jimmy at 1:59 PM on June 13, 2007

Consider San Antonio?

1) Depending on where you live, traffic here is a joke. I complain when my commute is 5 minutes longer than the day before!

2) There's a pretty large health care sector here, especially on the northwest side of town.

3) The bbq here is to die for.

4) San Antonio is very business-driven. We don't yet have a big high-tech district, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were businesses running unix servers that needed support.

5) The cost of living here very cheap, although house prices are "on the rise" - I rent a one bedroom apartment for 1/3 the cost it would be in the Bay Area.

6) Politically, San Antonio is pretty diverse, which is nice, but on the conservative/libertarian/get your hands off my dough side.

7) I also like all of the ethnic diversity here, since it creates a wonderful atmosphere. It's like the southwest, mexico, the south, and the midwest all mixed together in a unique and somewhat clashing way.
posted by muddgirl at 2:13 PM on June 13, 2007

Houston cons: hot, muggy, smoggy as fuck, the most miserable urban sprawl in the entire universe.

Houston pros: cheap affordable housing, Montrose, The Heights, it's a Continental Hub

Dallas cons: It's fucking full of Dallas people. And I don't know how to describe it except that one time I went to a New Year's Eve party (I've lived in Austin since '91) and I was like "what the fuck" because there were all these frosted blonde chicks with sparkly red tube tops and black skirts and their frat boy dick boyfriends, and the general consensus was that nobody told us it was going to be a Dallas party.

Dallas people are starting to invade Austin, what with their dressing up to go out drinking at bars that they are willing to wait in line behind a velvet rope for, and they suck.

All in all, I would pick Houston over Dallas any day of the week, and I fucking hate Houston.

I do, however, love my friends who live in Dallas or the outlying areas, despite their locale. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

Please do not move to Austin. We met our quota of Californians in 1995.
posted by mckenney at 2:16 PM on June 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

I work in the tech industry in Austin. I travel to Dallas and Houston extensively. I'll tell you what comes to mind, and answer any questions I can.

There's plenty of high-tech in Dallas, Houston, and Austin, and you shouldn't worry about getting a tech job at any. Austin has the highest tech industry job growth, but Houston and North Dallas have some fairly large bases. Austin is also building hospitals left and right, and while I can't vouch for EMS workers, I know we have a shortage of other medical professionals.

I'll cut to the chase, and share the common stereotypes about each:

Dallas: It's all about conspicuous consumerism! Lots of "$60k/yr millionaires," i.e., folks living beyond their means, shopping at designer stores, and drinking fancy cocktails at fancy bars. These folks are young and fun. They live metro lifestyles - metropolitan, metrosexual, etc. There's good food, in a fusion/foodie type of way. Dallas has a reputation for being "conservative," and the suburbs certainly are, but the city is flexible.

Houston: Houston's where you find your old money. Tree-lined streets of huge white and brick houses, surrounded by concrete sprawl and industrial parks, and folks who work in oil. Of the three, Houston is most likely to be where you encounter your cowboy hats and boots crowd (unless you count Fort Worth along with Dallas - it's hats and boots all the way down, over there). There's a significant Latino population. There's good food, in a down-home and culinary classics sort of way. Houston has the arts in a big way - fantastic ballet, fantastic opera, fantastic art, and even a decent science museum with a cool butterfly exhibit - but you're not into the museum stuff, so that's kind of a shrug. Due to its size, Houston has a great diversity in neighborhoods and architecture. It also has a diversity in age groups, though I'd have to say the 20 - 35 range is not nearly as present as in Dallas and Austin. Houston has a reputation for being even more conservative than Dallas, and it is.

Austin: Austin's (unofficial?) motto is, "Keep Austin Weird." Austin is small and funky. It's hip, in a hipster way. It's more than a little weird, in many ways. How? There's a guy who wanders the streets drunk, wearing nothing but a thong and a purse, sometimes holding a cardboard sign featuring a polemic against the local police in sharpie. He runs for Mayor every time. Every time, he gets a surprising number of votes. Central Austin is populated with tons of smallish homes built from the 40's through the 60's, in nice little neighborhoods full of "American for Peace" and "Bring the Troops Home" signs. Austin loves nothing more than Austin-made, Austin-owned, Austin-run. The University of Texas represents a big chunk of the population, and college-age kids are everywhere. Austin's great pride it's green nature - numerous beautiful tree-filled parks, filled during the weekdays with frisbee golfers and picnic goers, and filled during the weekends with festivals celebrating music (ACL, SXSW, etc.), Spam (the meat product), Eeyore (the donkey), and anything else anyone can dream up. Austin features tons of music venues (most located along its famed 6th Street), and fancies itself the music capital of the world.

Hopefully that helps. One last thought is that Texas cities have a weird attribute worth noting for its strangeness and its applicability to your career - as you move North from the center of town, things get more boring, more sprawl-y, more suburban, and more office-park-y. These areas are where you generally find your tech jobs, in those very office parks. Because of this, every tech worker inevitably finds themselves wondering, beyond where in Texas they will live, where in the city they will live.

Ok, that's two cents.
posted by rush at 2:16 PM on June 13, 2007

Let me add that I hear good things, however, about Fort Worth. Like, it has to be hip to make up for the morass of suck that is Dallas.
posted by mckenney at 2:17 PM on June 13, 2007

Hey, I lived in both Montrose and the Heights in Houston! Those places are about as funky as Houston manages to get.

Yes, the weather in Houston can be completely brutal BUT if you are not an outdoorsy type, that's just a problem in your dash from your car to the next air-conditioned shelter.

Portions of Houston get flooded with alarming frequency.

Rush hour traffic is completely horrible. I lived in H-town for 20+ years and still visit regularly, and I can't recall a time when I-10 west of 610 was NOT under major construction. However, it seems that traffic flow has improved a bit, and evidently some rail system to Katy is being built. But that would be almost a rail pioneer for the city. There is an existing link from the Astrodome area through the Medical Center and going into Downtown. Nothing like, say, BART, however.

If you were to work downtown, there's a high likelihood you'd have to pay for parking. Which ain't cheap.

Lots of annual arts and culture festivals. Plus the rodeo! Five universities ranging from Pretty Major to Kinda Small. Really good museums. NFL, NBA, WNBA, MLB, and IHL (I think) teams. Fair number of play-type theatres (but not anything on remotely the scale of Chicago or NYC).

Plenty of ethnic diversity. One of the largest gay populations in the country, I believe.

Houston is also home to some ultra-super-mega-uber churches that are so enormous that one of them bought the old basketball arena.
posted by Midnight Creeper at 2:29 PM on June 13, 2007

I live in a suburb twenty minutes from the middle of Houston. Although, as has been noted, the city of Houston has no zoning, most of the suburbs do. Many areas in the city also have deed restrictions which provide some measure of control over what happens to particular properties and neighborhoods, although comprehensive planning there is laughable. Nonetheless, although some parts of town have muffler shops next to homes, you won't see that in, say, River Oaks or the Museum District.

Here in the 'burbs there's a lot of master-planned communities. I love the one we're in now, pretty, clean, close to all the city conveniences and medical care. If you prefer the urban ambience, check out Montrose or Midtown, or maybe even my old shabby-genteel neighborhood in East End Galveston.

Having grown up in San Antonio mostly, I always heard that Dallas people were pretentious and Houston people were down-home. That's a stereotype that people live up or live down, but in many ways it's true. We also heard that Houston was where the streets flood every time it rains. That also is true. It rains here a lot -- more than in Seattle -- but know that it comes in huge storms, all at once, rather than raining every day for weeks on end.

Politically? When I was growing up, Dallas was actually the heart of the Texas Republican party (think Sen. John Tower). Houston was George H.W. Bush's town, but it was also Barbara Jordan's. I think that both places, as entire metropolitan communities, are substantially Republican. The recent Democratic advances in Dallas County reflect, I think, in part the same demographic change that elects Democrats as mayors in Houston, and in part the fact that Dallas County is more of an urban core. Harris County, by contrast, is larger and more suburban. Both towns have a spectrum of opinion, though, and you'll likely find folks to agree with and to argue with.

As a Unix SysAdmin / EMT you would have lots of job opprtunities in both Houston and Dallas. Houston is home to one of the largest medical complexes in the world (one reason why we chose our location). As far as tech, it's not just HP; there's also NASA and a lot of non-tech companies who need SysAdmins.

You say you have two jobs. I'm speculating that by moving here (Texas, I mean, not specifically Houston) you could work just one job and still have a good standard of living. Housing costs are that much less. No state income tax. Property tax is high, true, and the 8.25% state/local sales tax is nothing to sneeze at, but overall the cost of living is much less than on the coast.

My advice? Y'all come back. Visit both cities, Austin and San Antonio, too, and take enough time to decide which one you like the best.
posted by Robert Angelo at 2:30 PM on June 13, 2007

Houston is an all right place. I can't see myself settling down here, but it's got it's charms and I'm certainly not going crazy trying to get through grad school here.

- Cost of living is as cheap as everyone says it is.

- If you're into camping/hiking/outdoorsy stuff, stay away from Houston. Most of the decent state parks and such are on the opposite side of the state. Austin or San Antonio may be better fits for you if that's the case.

- Houston traffic sucks, but that only matters to suburbanites. Live inside the 610 loop and getting anywhere is pretty easy. I go weeks without going outside a 5 mile radius from my house.

-Don't count on public transportation. You have to drive EVERYWHERE in Houston.

i thought texas was considered the southwest?

Texas is way too big to fall into any designation easily. El Paso, and to a certain extent, San Antonio definitely have a southwest/mexican feel. Houston has a little of that Tex/Mex flavor, but is probably closer to that cajun gulf-coast vibe (though not nearly to the extent of say, New orleans). Dallas is a little more midwestern.

Through all of them, though, you'll find some uniquely texan characteristics (dry-smoked BBQ, rodeos, a really bizzare sense of texan pride)
posted by chrisamiller at 3:02 PM on June 13, 2007

I recommend extending your search to metro areas in Kansas or Missouri. As has been said before, Texas isn't the midwest -- it's the dustbowl to the north, the gulf to the east, the desert to the west, and Mexico to the south.

However, Kansas City and St. Louis both have much more reasonable cost of living, are university towns. Gun laws are pretty lax, too. If you like storms, they've got 'em by the spades (tornadoes are pretty damn cool if you've got a basement to hide out in).

The biggest selling point for me would be the proximity to food-producing regions for when we hit pieak oil, rising oceanic levels, and the return of Xenu.
posted by parilous at 3:20 PM on June 13, 2007

Austin jumped the shark about 10 years ago. It used to full of genuinely unique people, now it's full of people who are moving there because they've heard of how awesome and unique it is to live there. Personally, I find the attitude of many people who live in Austin to be a bit "hipper than thou."

Dallas is okay. I spent a lot of time there as a kid growing up in Oklahoma. Family lives there. Dallas used to be where Okies would go for a weekend away. Now I kind of see it as exactly like the TV show — industrial in some parts, a very very small cultural and artistic heart, but tons of 'burbs, too, if that's your thing. My sister lived closer to Denton and almost never went into central Dallas.

Houston... for all the shit that people talk about Houston, I effing love living in that town. I live a mile from downtown, in the gay district, and at night there are tranny prostitutes that hang out on my street corner. They know me by name and say hello to my dog as we go on our evening walk. That might not be your cup of tea, though.

Houston is super, super diverse. There is a huge outsider art scene that is still growing organically, unlike the artificial growth in Austin. Like Dallas, there are tons of suburbs if that's where you'd prefer to live, most of them are incredibly nice. The weather is hot, though, but I prefer hot weather to cold, and that's what swimming pools and beaches are for. (Also, the beaches at Galveston are nasty but there are several other places within the same driving distance that are really nice). Air conditioning is everywhere. but I'm a pretty active outdoorsy kinda girl and the heat still doesn't bother me.

An hour or so north of Houston and you're in a beautiful forest with plenty of hiking trails. And hour west and you're in the hill country. A few hours east and you're in the Mississippi delta. 45 mins south and you're at the beach. There's a plethora of restaurants of every variety and live music of you choosing every night. The museums are top quality, as is health care. Houston is cheap and it's easy to find a place to live close to where you work, no matter where you work. More and more, Houston is becoming an ultra bike-friendly city as well, with the current mayor lobbying hard to bring more trails to the city.

There are a lot of conservatives in Texas, the same is true for Houston. However, it's also the 4th largest city in the US, and there are tons of internationals, people from other parts of the US and traveling workers who live there, all with their own unique values and cultures.

I realize that might not be everyone's idea of heaven but after living overseas for two years I desperately, desperately miss the city I've adopted as my home. Like anywhere else, you have to make your own fun, and I've found a large groups of friends in Houston that have become more like family to me that my biological family.

Hot Town, Cool City
Houston, It's Worth It
posted by Brittanie at 3:38 PM on June 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

Dallas: got a soft machine;
Houston: too close to New Orleans;

Dallas for climate, Houston for company.
posted by RussHy at 3:47 PM on June 13, 2007

Houston: It may be hot but at least we don't get snow. Unless you could cound 1-2" 3 years ago. I don't see much of the cowboy hat crowd that rush spoke about.
It is true that Houston is not zoned but many parts of it are deed restricted. Some think that the lack of zoning makes it ugly but I love it. I know that right around the corner from my house is great Chinese food and on the next block is a daycare center and a Czech lodge with baseball games and potlucks. In Dallas you have to drive to the correct part of town that is zoned for what you want. Also, If you want to have an adult beverage in Dallas and you find yourself in a "dry" precinct, you have to become a "member" of the place. I think they called it a "Unicard". It seems easy to get; just show ID. But what a pain.
My Dad lives right outside of Houston and his brother lives right outside of Dallas. They can't stand to visit each other.

Espoo2 is correct in Dallas people can't stand Houston people and Houston people can't stand Dallas people.

You couldn't pay me enought to move to Dallas. But, Ft. Worth is pretty cool. Now, there you will find plenty of cowboy hats. But everyone is super nice.
posted by nimsey lou at 4:25 PM on June 13, 2007

Dallas is very diverse. Dallas county is about 20% black, 35% Hispanic and 35% white. Many elected officials (county judge, sheriff, district clerk, and a leading mayoral candidate) are openly gay. Racial issues exist, but Dallas is far from a haven for racist rednecks.

In 2004, Dallas county voted 50% Bush and 49% Kerry. City politics includes people from all across the spectrum (although I don't think there is anyone as far left as SF politicians).

This is true but misleading, in that Dallas' ever-expanding suburbs and exurbs (which bloom out into adjacent counties, particularly Collin county) are some of the strongest concentrations of Republicans in the country, and there is a lot of mixing between suburbs and city. What is accurate is

the conservative Christian attitude is generally balanced out by the Texan self-sufficient "you stay out of my business and I'll stay out of yours" ethic.

except for the billboards. I doubt this will bother you, though. You will like the food. The only thing that's really lacking is much in the way of Greek food, but that isn't something you mentioned.
posted by furiousthought at 4:46 PM on June 13, 2007

Oh yeah. Another plus for Houston is that because of the large immigrant populations, you can get really good, authentic Chinese, Indian, and Middle Eastern food there. Austin, not so much.
posted by mckenney at 4:47 PM on June 13, 2007

The Fort Worth attitude is best described by the T-shirst worn at a local BBQ place: "Life's too short to live in Dallas."

The Railyard! I have that shirt.

So, weighing in: I grew up in Houston, then 10 years in Austin, and now going on third year in Dallas. Ditto all the statements that: Texas is not considered the Midwest... nor is Austin any remote comparison to Houston/Dallas... that all Houstonians grow up hating Dallas, and Dallasites vice versa... that the commute from the suburbs into town can be 40-60 minutes, easy... that the public transit sucks in both cities (though I'd give Dallas the slight edge)... and that Houston is so humid that it can drive people out (really, you need to spend a week there in July before you decide to relocate there, the muggy heat alone might make your decision for you).

Both have their sprawl, but Dallas is far more suburb-riddled than Houston. Every freeway exit outside downtown practically demarks a new city boundary. Lots of people say they live "in Dallas," when really they mean they live in Plano, Garland, Addison, Richardson, Frisco, The Colony, Lewisville, Desoto, McKinney, Arlington, Carrollton, Mesquite, ad nauseam.

You might think "what's the diff," but it means different taxes, different school districts, different city councils and all within one mile. I know people who have a home address in one city, pay taxes to a second, kids go to school in yet a third, and they commute to a fourth. It can drive a man to drink (long as he's willing to go to a package store in the next county or pay a "membership" fee to a restaurant, that is -- many parts of Dallas area are dry)

And it means you have to be careful in listening to generalizations about "Dallas." For example:
Dallas is very diverse. Dallas county is about 20% black, 35% Hispanic and 35% white. Many elected officials (county judge, sheriff, district clerk, and a leading mayoral candidate) are openly gay. Racial issues exist, but Dallas is far from a haven for racist rednecks. In 2004, Dallas county voted 50% Bush and 49% Kerry.
That's all well and good if you live in Dallas proper, city center. But Collin County, which is widely considered part of "Dallas," and in which a good chunk of the city is contained, voted 75% for Bush in 2004, and almost the same percent straight ticket R. Scary shit, man. This is still a big red city in a big red state.

So, as with Houston (and any big city, really), you can't really latch on to what the people, atmosphere and attitudes are like until you figure out what part of town you're going to possibly live in. (But to be fair, the times are a-changin'... check out a May 17 Time article called "The Lavender Heart of Texas: How once conservative Dallas has become one of the nation's most gay-friendly cities").

Dallas is very materialistic, as has been said up thread, "the home of the thirty-thousandaire" (Cash McMogulson wanna-bes, trying to get in the pants of a bottle blonde who'll ask you openly what kind of car you drive before asking your name, etc). Imagine the social climbing and materialism of L.A., only with less culture + more racism.

Houston has its racism too, but overall I find Houstonians to be more class-tolerant. Shipping (the Port of Houston), oil and gas, and other industries with a strong blue-collar employee base are prevalent in Houston so the city is distinctly more blue-collar, and overall more comfortable with its blue-collar neighborhoods. Houston is much more Texan than Dallas, which aspires more to an East- or West-Coast sophistication and frequently tries to denounce its country origin.

chrisamiller nailed it WRT the regionalism. Houston is very coastal and Southern, more like Louisiana... West and South Texas are very much of the Southwest and have a strong Mexican influence... the Panhandle and Dallas are more Midwestern in attitude (your "jes folks" tending toward Puritan/pioneer ethic)... Austin is all its own creature, defying classification.

The food in both cities is very good for different reasons: Houston has more and better ethnic, more and better seafood, more and better local restaurants. But Dallasites eat out more than most people, and in fact Dallas has the most restaurants per capita in the U.S. (yes, even more than NYC). Many restaurant companies use Dallas as a testing ground for new concepts, building one store here for a year to see how it flies before committing to the concept nationally. Same for trying out new recipes here before taking them to menus nationwide. So, by sheer dint of quantity, there are loads of good places to eat in Dallas.

And, Dallas has more shopping centers per capita than any other major city. Dallasites love to shop (see above re materialistic). So, if you care about that sort of thing, it means that of the kinds of retail stores that only open a few locations nationwide, Dallas is likely to get their Texas location.

I love Houston, and I'd go back to live any time. Of the big cities I've gotten to know, Houston is the most comfortable in its own skin. Dallas has too much to prove; it seems that Dallas would rather be in New York, California, anywhere but Texas.

I do, however, love my friends who live in Dallas or the outlying areas, despite their locale. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

Sing it, sister. You know I'd get out if I could.
posted by pineapple at 4:54 PM on June 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

(Damn, mckenney beat me to the ethnic restaurant point, and furiousthought beat me to the Collin County v. Dallas County politics point.)

Oh, and it's not true that Fort Worth is nothing at all like either Houston or Dallas. It's got a bit of both. If you bred Houston's laid-back blue-collar Texanness, and Dallas' thunderstorms, flat prairie, suburban sprawl and Republican base, their bastard shit-kicking child would be Fort Worth.
posted by pineapple at 4:59 PM on June 13, 2007

I've lived in Houston over 20 years. I hear the bad rap, but I don't really get it. Yeah, it's hot but like nimsey lou said, I'd rather bake than freeze.

Driving is non-negotiable, and living in Houston (and probably Dallas as well) will warp how you perceive commuting times after a while. I can get to my parent's house 45 miles away (and yet still in Houston) in about 40 minutes. That's pretty much one side of town to another in weekend traffic doing 80 on the toll road. I think for a lot of people that's a helluva long way to go for a weekend visit, but that's just the way it is around here. I've seen relationships end because one person lived on the far northwest side and the other lived on the southeast side and, fuck, if it wasn't a pain to try to get together every day. If you ended up working downtown you could take the Park & Ride (park your car at about twenty or so big parking lots throughout the city and a bus will take you downtown. Some companies will even reimburse you for the cost.)

The refineries and such are on the east side of town as you head towards New Orleans. Pasadena has a funny smell that you get used to after a while (I assume.) Heading south towards Galveston on I-45 near NASA gets pretty Applebee-ish, but I haven't spent a lot of time that way in years so it might have changed.

I live on the far west side of town, and on top of being eight minutes from my two-bedroom, $700-a-month apartment to work if I hit all the lights, double that drive time and I can easily find four good Middle Eastern restaurants plus a kick-ass Mediterranean supermarket, two Italian places, three Indian joints, Thai, sushi, more BBQ, Tex-mex restaurants and steakhouses than I could ever know what to do with, an oyster bar and a theater that serves beer.

As for politics, one of my best friends and her husband routinely compete in the frequent BBQ and chili cookoffs held around the city and they always invite me. They're very Red and I'm very Blue. No one really cares.
posted by Cyrano at 5:21 PM on June 13, 2007

I dunno guys, Bay Area commutes can apparently be pretty brutal. Dallas or Houston traffic may be comparable, but I doubt it's worse.
posted by furiousthought at 5:51 PM on June 13, 2007

Response by poster: It sounds like I need to plan a trip to both places this summer.

Thanks for all the replies!

Oh, I'm 31, single, no kids, will never have any, and the dating scene here basically sucks anyway despite magazines saying that there's an abundance of single men in the Silicon Valley. ;-)
posted by drstein at 6:08 PM on June 13, 2007

Both Dallas and Houston are hot and muggy in the summer. I grew up near Houston and live near Dallas now. When we say Houston is hot, we mean in the summer when you leave your air conditioned house to get in the car, your shirt will be soaking wet from sweat before you can make it to the car. Houston also has much more smog than Dallas. Houston is also undergoing an increased crime rate right now and high unemployment (according to the newspaper).

You might also investigate some of the smaller cities such as New Braunfels, San Marcos, Conroe, Bryan-College Station, Waco, Wichita Falls, Abilene, Lubbock, etc. since you say you are tired of the "far-left attitude", looking for a lower cost of living, etc.
posted by rcavett at 6:08 PM on June 13, 2007

"Bryan-College Station, Waco, Wichita Falls, Abilene, Lubbock, etc. since you say you are tired of the "far-left attitude"

drstein said "tired of the far-left attitude, not "ready to run for chair of the Texas GOP," hurf durf.

posted by pineapple at 6:21 PM on June 13, 2007

I live in Houston, work in the Medical Center and really love it. When I visit my sisters who live in Dallas it looks fun too. Each is large enough that you can find just about any odd or common subculture you're interested in. So don't listen to the haters.

I like the cheap cost of living. It enables me to travel a lot. The Houston airport is huge and I like not having layover flights when I do fly. I like eating out - there is every type of food here. I like being close to Galveston and Louisiana. The rest of Texas is pretty interesting too. I like that I can fairly easily go on huge driving trips to the rest of the country. Mexico is amazing.

If you pick H-town you might consider CyFair. There's gun ranges out there and the EMS/fire dept. are treated like royalty. That area, like the Woodlands in the north, are fairly self sufficient - meaning many people live there and don't drive into H-town proper often. Good BBQ and comfort food. The Houston FD/EMS people that I met when I worked in an ER were a really wonderful mix of folks. Very cool people.

Personally I like living in the middle of things. I live very close to downtown and like using the rail, buses, and riding my scooter. I don't drive my car much or use the freeways. It's a nice life here. Best wishes whatever you choose.
posted by dog food sugar at 6:47 PM on June 13, 2007

Houston is absolutely mammoth. It is only exceeded in sprawl by Los Angeles. Yeah, the weather is bad. Not just the humidity but the rain as well. It can come down for days. That's a bit of an exaggeration but less than you think. San Francisco traffic is worse in my opinion but Houston is pretty bad. I can not emphasize enough how important it is to find a job and then find your housing. That's tough to do but it will make a big difference in your quality of life. Just about no one in Houston actually does that, the idyllic suburban dream is very powerful there. When you visit, check out neighborhoods along I-10 and I-59 on the west side up to about the Beltway. Check out the Heights and Montrose too. I've lived in both and they're OK but not as much fun as comparable areas in NYC or SF or LA or SD or Portland or etc. Montrose is mainly a renter's neighborhood and the Heights has been getting gentrified for about 7 or 8 years now. McMansions are popping up pretty regular. Politics of course, are conservative. Tom DeLay was real well thought of. Law and order gets a lot of emphasis, more than I've ever seen elsewhere. I'm sure there are some rural counties with more aggressive prosecutors and police, but not many, and no cities. Houston county sends more people to death row than any other in Texas and it's not close, more like a multiple of second place.

The best advice I can give is to live close to where you want to spend your time. Even though I think people are exaggerating the traffic a little, it's bad and that plus the distances involved are good arguments for picking your location carefully.

I've spent less time in Dallas. It has similar sprawl issues and the same emphasis on suburbs but to a smaller degree. The weather isn't quite as bad either, it's not built right on top of a bayou. To me it seem even more of a chain restaurant strip mall kind of a city than Houston and that's saying something.

Plenty of urban cowboys in both cities. Neither one is anything like Austin. If you like Austin consider moving there. It's pretty unique as far as Texas goes. The sprawl and traffic there are getting worse but that seems to be true for everywhere. The small towns clustered around there are nicer there than the real estate developments they call cities which merge into Houston and Dallas.
posted by BigSky at 6:48 PM on June 13, 2007

I think Brittanie has a pretty good handle on what Houston is like. It sounds as if she lives near Montrose, where I lived for almost seven years. I live in Austin now, and I miss the Montrose area every day. If you visit Houston, you should go to the Montrose area. And the Heights. And the Orange Show and the Menil and the house made of beer cans and the Rothko chapel and the giant President heads and the West Alabama Icehouse and Valhalla.

Sometimes I think that mine was a secret Houston.

Of the big cities I've gotten to know, Houston is the most comfortable in its own skin.

Yes. Houston doesn't pretend to be anything other than what it is.
posted by bluishorange at 6:56 PM on June 13, 2007

I am not so sure that that anyone is making the traffice out to be worse than it is. The I-10 and 610 exchange on the west side of Houston was just ranked second most congested behind LA. I can't find the reference right now. I saw it on You can check the Transtar site to see how congested Houston can get. Just try to live near where you work or make sure you are going against traffic when you have to commute. It makes life easier.
posted by nimsey lou at 7:20 PM on June 13, 2007

I have a lot to say about Texas/Dallas, where I've lived all my life, but I just want to hit a few points:
- Dallas does have a cultural scene- if you like indie music several good bands have come out of here in the last couple of years, and if a band comes through Texas it comes to Dallas over Houston (usually en route to Austin but hey, at least they get here), but I could be wrong, this is based on my perception. Well actually, Dallas doesn't have it so much as Denton and Dallas and the whole area, but same thing. Also re: culture, Dallas has some good museums and Fort Worth has several really good ones, just an hour or so away, as well as opera and ballet and a symphony orchestra and so forth. People in Dallas don't spend all their time shopping and going to expensive bars.

- Cultural diversity: maybe it's different in the suburbs (i live in Plano), but this area is pretty culturally diverse- 10% Asian, mostly because of the tech jobs. Among people I go to school with, every other person at least has an engineer for a parent.

-Dallas is big enough that you don't have to hang out with the status conscious people if you don't want to. People here do take grooming seriously, but that's kind of a Southern thing.

Come and visit and see for yourself!
posted by MadamM at 7:24 PM on June 13, 2007

Bluishorange, I live right behind Numbers.

P.S. I've read your blog for years.
posted by Brittanie at 7:46 PM on June 13, 2007

nimsey lou,

I can believe that. I always lived inside the loop, close to downtown. I don't think I ever had a place on the other side of Alabama and I also worked off hours. But when I hear it called worse than SF, it doesn't sound right. San Francisco is tightly packed with narrow streets, a lot of traffic and finding parking is just horrible. But whatever, these comparisons are somewhat subjective. I'm sure Houston has more people doing hour+ commutes. I was always shocked to talk to people who lived in Katy or the Woodlands and worked downtown. They would never think of moving either.
posted by BigSky at 8:10 PM on June 13, 2007

Response by poster: So, when is a good time of year to visit? ;-)

I'm stuck here until at least the end of August. I can't get out of this blasted lease unless I die or something.

And no, I'm not going for the GOP. Heh. I just like places that are a bit more 'centrist' than the San Francisco area.
posted by drstein at 9:16 PM on June 13, 2007

San Francisco is tightly packed with narrow streets, a lot of traffic and finding parking is just horrible.

This is true. No matter how bad traffic is in Houston as compared to SF, in Houston, when you finally, FINALLY arrive at your destination, you will have a place to park. In San Francisco, when you finally, FINALLY find a place to park, you'll come back to your car later to find a nice shiny parking ticket stuffed under your windshield wiper. You know, hypothetically.

However, this is part of why Dallas and Houston are so sprawling. Most of your drives across town will take you past very large parking lots. They're nice when you need them, but don't offer much in the way of scenery.

I'd like to offer one more point in defense of Houston. I've never been in any other city where I felt so wonderfully inconspicuous as I did in Houston. In cities like Los Angeles and Austin (and even San Francisco to an extent) I've always felt conspicuous. In each of those towns it seems like people want you to play a specific role that falls in line with what that town is supposed to be about. For example, I think Austin stopped being so hip and laid back when it began to evaluate its citizens based on how hip and laid-back they appeared. It feels a bit oppressive at times. In other words, we can try to keep Austin as weird as we want to, but the judgments that ensue negate much of the spirit behind it.

Oh, wait, this was supposed to be about Houston. So: there may be many things to dislike about living in a city without an ethos, but not having to worry about how well you fit in with the city's own idea of what it wants to be isn't one of them. Houston pretty much just wants to be indoors, where there's air conditioning.

(Of course, this conspicuousness factor may only be important to those as paranoid and self-absorbed as I.)

On preview: drstein, as far as a good time to visit, I second the poster above who suggested that you visit in the summertime. We can tell you how hot Texas is in the summer, but you'll only know how very much we mean that until you check it out for yourself. For you, the hot and humid air is thick with "potential deciding factor."
posted by bluishorange at 9:40 PM on June 13, 2007

Native Houstonian here, now living in...well, look at my handle. I love Houston and if my circumstances were different, I'd move back there tomorrow. Is it hot? Yeah, in spring and summer, it's hot, but the good side is that winters are almost always mild. It'll rarely even freeze, never mind have the streets ice over and such. IMO, four wildly varying seasons like we have here n Missouri is very overrated, because it gets every bit as hot in the midwest...just not every day. In Texas in general, springtime lasts maybe a day or so, and the wildflowers in the fields between Houston and Austin come into bloom by the end of February and are dead by May. Anyway, everything is air-conditioned, and lots of people keep a sweater or jacket with them just to deal with that. Also, the humidity is superb for your skin. Just (un)dress accordingly. Not much of a dress code there.

Houston's got a wonderful eating/dining scene, the result of the incredible diversity there, and that has been there for 30+ years.

In general, I'd be willing to bet that Houston's still a lot more culturally diverse than Dallas. People from all over the world have been going there to make money since the 60s. Generally, it's been a multicultural city for all that time, and more interesting as a result. I saw a lot more Chinese and Indian businesses in Dallas last time I was there, which is good.

While someone upthread mentioned Houston as being more old money than Dallas, I never saw that. While there are a very few remaining snotty clubs and such, no one really cares who your family is or where you went to college.
posted by missouri_lawyer at 10:02 PM on June 13, 2007

It absolutely astounds me how many people think that Dallasites are shallow and care too much about what you own, drive, etc...yes, we have an economy built on food, drink and shopping. BFD. If you don't like it, leave. If you can tolerate it, we can tolerate you.

It's not that anyone here cares about what you have/look like/how much you make. It's just that there are a lot of prosperous, pretty people here and it makes a lot of folks uncomfortable. Saying they're all shallow is retarded since you don't know them anymore than they know you.

There's shallow fucking people in every city in America. Austin is no exception.

I've lived in Dallas for 15 years, and have also lived Seattle, several parts of Florida, and spent more than my share of time in the Bay Area, the Rockies, the Midwest and parts elsewhere.

I personally don't like Houston's traffic and humidity. But I also office from home again and don't have a commute. There is something for everyone in all of the cities you mention - they are large and diverse enough in terms of activity and people that you can find what you want.

People are what they are - just do your own thing. The histrionics you hear from "Hipper Than Thou" Austinites about Dallas are ludicrous. I like Austin. It's a fun town. I like Dallas. I like parts of Houston.

But just because Austin is nice does not mean that Dallas sucks. It's a good place if you like city life, and a cheap cost of living.

Yes, our property taxes are a bit high - but Austin's are higher. We also don't pay state income tax. And property taxes are in a phased-decline right now - the offset is being paid by exhorbitant taxes on cigarettes.

Here's my main reason for liking Dallas aside from having a lot of friends here: It's cheap to live. You can have a great quality of life here, to the point where you can afford to travel well to other places. You can buy a very nice house for well under 200K, and no, you don't have to be in McMansion Hell of Plano or Frisco to do it. You do not have to be house-poor like you do in the Bay Area.

Bluishorange, I think, nailed down Houston quite well. Having spent some time in Montrose, I have to agree.

Visit all the places and pick what you like, and ignore the screaming about what sucks and what doesn't. This is your call.
posted by TeamBilly at 6:49 AM on June 14, 2007

drstein, come visit in August or September to see how you like the heat. When we came back to Texas from San Diego, we arrived in Galveston on a Labor Day weekend -- and a tropical storm came the next weekend. What fun. :-)

Come back again in Spring to see thing at their freshest and best. Contrary to some opinion, I think of Spring here starting in February with full Spring at the beginning of March (The azaleas are in bloom! Go see Miss Ima's house.) through April, usually heating into summer again sometime in May. Two years ago Spring lasted on into June, but then we had Katrina and Rita.

Speaking of Miss Ima, she illustrates Houston's character and heritage. Wealthy, generous, this "First Lady of Texas" was always known as "Miss Ima Hogg". Houston doesn't take itself too seriously.
posted by Robert Angelo at 7:03 AM on June 14, 2007

Re: time to visit Houston - I don't know if I'd come in the middle of summer or August. The heat is something that's good to build up to.

Febuary thru April or September thru November are usually really nice. For Dallas, I'd guess March thru May and also September thru November.
posted by dog food sugar at 7:52 AM on June 14, 2007

Perhaps what I should have said was:

1) I do not believe Dallas is more vapid or materialistic than any other major city.
2) There are bad apples that make it/us look bad everywhere, for every city.
3) I hear lot of people slagging Dallas and a lot of that comes from Austin.

Clear enough?

Please understand - I'm not knocking Houston, Austin, or Dallas. I just feel like Dallas gets a bad rap from a lot of people - fact is, it's no worse, in my opinion, than anywhere else. Sure, there's negatives, but that's everywhere, too - like you, I tend to look past those and appreciate the charms of the city I live in. Your mileage may vary, is all. Get enough people living in the same place and you're gonna have problems.

Re: the multiple conversation thing at parties - that sucks. I wouldn't have wanted to be there/hear that, either. But it would be equally ignorant to indict the entire city on the musings of a few other people.

The state income tax reference was to the OP's living in California - where they do pay a state income tax - the WE was referring to Texas by the use of the word "state." I'm sorry that was not obvious.

My comments were not a personal attack, pineapple - relax. As I said, there's plenty for everyone in all of those cities, and I'm sure the OP is intelligent enough to figure that out.
posted by TeamBilly at 8:04 AM on June 14, 2007

Didn't take it as personal, at all. I just was put off by your suggestion that because some people accuse Dallas of shallow materialism, and because not all Dallasites are like that, therefore it's not reasonable for the city to get painted with that brush.

Dallas does have more shopping centers per capita than any other U.S. city. Dallas does have more plastic surgeons, and cosmetic surgical procedures performed, than any other city in the world. You can't really ignore those facts; they're begging to be stereotyped into a city personality.

I'm not indicting anyone with my anecdote about the boob job bragging... just relaying it as evidence of something you just don't hear in Peoria or SF or Brooklyn. Sorry if it came off as an attack.

Fact is, most of the people I know who like Dallas a lot like it for the very reasons that other people find it shallow; it's definitely a YMMV thing.

Don't forget, I live in Dallas myself. It's a love-hate relationship, to be sure, but I tried to be balanced in my take on the two cities, citing pros and cons based on my experiences.
posted by pineapple at 8:45 AM on June 14, 2007

Dallas doesn't lack in Asian cultural diversity. It has a Koreantown, Richardson is its Chinatown, and there's a huge Vietnamese population. It's a big city and metro, the metropolitan population is larger than Houston's although, as someone mentioned, the city population is smaller. Both cities have large populations based on annexation of suburbs rather than growth.
posted by tomo at 10:20 AM on June 14, 2007

The Railyard! I have that shirt.

Actually, it's Railhead.
posted by Doohickie at 11:37 AM on June 17, 2007

Response by poster: Just a followup, mostly for my own benefit. I visited in July. I loved it. The heat/humidity didn't bug me. I was told that the weather is a lot like that in Japan. I lived in Yokohama, Japan for 6 years. The weather there is a lot like Houston except that it gets some snow.

The weather in Dallas/Ft Worth was great to me. I absolutely loved it! The food was great, traffic was better than it is here (Silicon Valley) and I thought the people were nice.

I'm getting out of California.
posted by drstein at 12:24 PM on October 5, 2007

Response by poster: Another follow up.

We moved here at the beginning of January, and it's been wonderful. This has probably been the most positive change I've made in my whole life. The g/f found a great job, I found a job that I love, and her 12yr old is doing fantastic in school. We've found that the schools in the area go out of their way to take time with the kids and to help them. I've found the school systems to be vastly superior to the ones that we were dealing with in the San Jose, CA area.
There's less traffic.
The weather is better.
The people are friendlier.

Overall, this was a fantastic choice for us.

still haven't been to Houston, tho. ;)
posted by drstein at 8:28 AM on May 3, 2008

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